a finger is about to tool grout lines to make them smooth

Tooling Grout

Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 1/22/2021

Grouting tiles is important for a variety of reasons, from creating a rigid and durable structure around the tiles to making everything look straight and beautiful. Be sure to follow all the necessary steps, including tooling your grout lines, to get the job done right the first time.


Tooling is the process of finishing the grout lines between tiles after the grout joints have been filled with an adhesive or mortar. It involves smoothing out and removing excess grout while uniformly shaping grout lines. It is typically done with a finger or a finishing tool depending on the width of the grout joints.

Important Things To Consider When Tooling Grout Lines

Tooling grout can be a highly rewarding process when done properly. After all, the end result of this process is basically going to determine the final look of the whole project, minus the clean-up and final touches:

  • Although there are no standards for grout joint sizes, most tiles are separated by grout joints that are typically between 1/8″ to 3/16″ in width. Sizes in this range can, in most cases, be tooled with a wet finger.
  • Larger grout joints may require a special finishing tool, which can typically come with one end or side for smoothing out the joint and creating a slight concave and one for removing excess material from the surface.